MACEDONIA — A class that he took during five years studying at Dallas Theological Seminary has led a young Northeast Ohio native to launch a church affiliated with The Chapel in Akron in the Nordonia Hills community.
The Rev. Chase Jones and his wife Amanda have been working the last few weeks to drum up support for the new congregation, which is one of 10 The Chapel plans to establish over a 10-year period. Official launch date is March 29, 2020.
"I took a church planting class while at the seminary, and my project involved hypothetically planting a church in the Macedonia area," he said. "During that class, I realized there was nothing else I wanted to do but pursue establishing a church here."
He explained when he returned to Ohio he talked with officials from The Chapel, an 85-year-old institution in the Akron religious community, and they told him about their goal to plant 10 churches in the region within 10 years. That discussion resulted in Jones’ current endeavor.
Jones chose Nordonia Hills for his seminary project because he grew up in the Boston Heights-Peninsula area, and is familiar with it. He is one of six siblings.
He attended Ohio Northern University, where he played football, then went to Dallas Theological Seminary. He said during his first year in Texas he began to miss his native Ohio.
Jones met his wife at ONU, where she was an athletic trainer. They have been married for six years, and have a 2-year-old daughter, Ada. The little girl was named after Ada, Ohio, the town in Northwest Ohio where Ohio Northern is located.
"During his church planting class project, I could see the great zeal and fire in his eyes," said Amanda about Chase’s passion to plant a church in Northeast Ohio. "We’re so excited about seeing what God will do in Nordonia and we want everyone to be part of it."
"One of the reasons I chose Macedonia is because of the potential to have a diverse, multi-generational church," Jones said.
"After moving into the community and meeting people here, I realized that we’re not just trying to limit our reach to Macedonia, but we want to reach the entire Nordonia Hills area. So we changed the name to The Chapel Nordonia."
Jones said his goal is to see people’s lives transformed by Jesus. "I want to see a multi-generational church — made up of every ethnicity in the Nordonia Hills area and surrounding areas — come together to worship Jesus.
"I want to see a church that cares for the community and helps those in need in the community — a church that isn’t inward focused, but is in Nordonia for Nordonia. I want to see a church where if we disappeared, the community would feel our absence."
Jones noted often times when people meet him they ask if he’s planting a "black church" or a "white church." He said the answer is "no," as his desire is to see a true, multi-racial and multi-generational church.
The minister said he has met with some local mayors and Nordonia Hills Schools Superintendent Joe Clark, and he hopes the new congregation initially can meet in one of the school district’s buildings, possibly Lee Eaton Elementary in Northfield.
Jones said in the months preceding the official church launch, area residents can be part of the effort in three ways: "By praying for us, by giving to The Chapel Nordonia or The Chapel’s saturate movement and by joining us in this opportunity."
"I believe this is the start of something amazing in the Macedonia area," said Jones. "Just like everywhere, the good news of the Gospel is absolutely needed to fix a broken society."
The Chapel Nordonia is planning a Vision Night and question and answer session Aug. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at Gambitta’s Party Center at 160 E. Aurora Road. For further information and to RSVP by July 31, visit nordonia.thechapel.life/vision.
Started in 1934 by Pastor Carl Burnham, The Chapel built its first sanctuary in 1936 at Brown and Vine streets in Akron, then moved in 1955 to its current property on Fir Hill near the University of Akron. The first building there is now known as the Memorial Chapel.
In 1973, the worship center at the Akron campus was built. In 1976, The Chapel in Marlboro became the first daughter church and it was followed in 1982 by The Chapel in Hudson, which is now known as Christ Community Chapel.
The Chapel in North Canton came along in 1985, Riverwood Community Chapel in Kent followed in 1991, Valleyview Chapel in Wadsworth in 1994, the Green campus in 2003 and The Chapel at Tinker’s Creek in Streetsboro became the first granddaughter church in 2004.
Today, The Chapel in Akron has five campuses — Akron, Green, Wadsworth, Kenmore (2016 as the first one in the church’s effort to plant 10 churches in 10 years) and Cuyahoga Falls (2018).
Jones said in addition to Nordonia Hills, other plants are soon to be launched in Medina and Massillon. Pastor Tim Armstrong is the fifth senior in The Chapel’s history, having taken over in 2014. Each campus has a lead pastor.
Perhaps The Chapel’s most well-known senior pastor was Knute Larson, who served from 1982 to 2009. He appeared in many television commercials during his tenure, and saw the church grow to about 8,000 members.
Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400, ext. 4189 or firstname.lastname@example.org.